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Lahore court dismisses case seeking FIR against Aurat March participants, asks petitioner to approach FIA

May 23, 2019

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Additional District and Sessions Judge Amir Habib announced the verdict on the petition today and noted that the police had said no illegal steps were taken during the rally. — Photo courtesy Amnesty International/File
Additional District and Sessions Judge Amir Habib announced the verdict on the petition today and noted that the police had said no illegal steps were taken during the rally. — Photo courtesy Amnesty International/File

A sessions court in Lahore on Thursday disposed of a petition seeking the registration of a first information report (FIR) against the participants of the Aurat March and ordered the petitioner to approach the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), saying that is the appropriate forum to address allegations of immoral pictures being uploaded on social media.

The petitioner had alleged that an FIR should be registered as immoral and unconstitutional acts were carried out at the march.

Additional District and Sessions Judge Amir Habib announced the verdict on the petition today and noted that the police had said no illegal steps were taken during the rally. The court added that the FIA could register the case as a cybercrime.

The order, dated May 22, stated that the petition had alleged that "immoral pictures" of women were uploaded on social media, which "attract the application of the [Prevention of] Electronic Crime Act 2016" and added that a special court of the FIA was designated for this work.

The order stated: "The instant petition stands disposed of with the observation that the petitioner shall approach the concerned forum for redressal of her grievance."

Amina Malik of the Civil Society Network had filed a petition under section 22-A and 22-B of the Code of Criminal Procedure pleading that an application had been submitted with the Civil Lines station house officer (SHO) for registration of an FIR against Aurat March participants, but the SHO was reluctant to lodge a case.

The petitioner argued through her lawyer that participants had displayed placards with immoral slogans. The lawyer claimed that the act was against the Constitution and Islamic injunctions, and asked the court to order the police to lodge a case against the participants.

On Wednesday, the court had reserved its verdict on the petition. During the hearing, a police report was submitted which said that there had been no illegal or immoral act committed in the march in front of Governor House Punjab on International Women's Day. It added that a case could not be registered for taking out a peaceful rally.